Posted by: tomciocco | January 24, 2011

FRUIT FROM AN ANCIENT CORNER OF EUROPE

Deep in the southeastern point of Sicily is the bewitchingly elegant baroque town of Noto. Noto is, as the crow flies, closer to many towns in North Africa than it is to to Rome, and in terms of pace of life and climate among other things, this is clear.

Noto, in addition to the great pride it harbors in its architectural patrimony, it can also include a great source of viticultural pride as well in the form of what has become Sicily’s signature grape, Nero d’Avola. From this sunsplashed, arid, and blustery little jewel of a town, Nero d’Avola spread throughout this largest of Mediterranean islands.

And though scores of grape varieties grow out of every crack of this volcanic paradise for the vine, or more likely precisely because of this fecundity, the notion of terroir never really developed in Sicily – a place where coltivazione promiscua (growing wine grape vines side by side with vegetables, grains, etc.) is still commonplace.  And this notion of the vine as crop like any other has extended even into the realm of the official. Sicily, especially for its size, has a real paucity of D.O.C.’s and D.O.C.G.’s BUT, Noto’s  notoriety for Nero d’Avola has enabled it to rightfully claim one of them. 

The refrigerator demanded the re-working of some previously prepared and packed-up items that eventually coalesced into a first course of pennoni pasta with a chunky tomato/herb/mushroom sauce, and then chicken/beef polpette with some freshly smothered broccoli.

Marabino Nero d’Avola Noto 2008

Medium purple/garnet core, fading to rosy red at the rim. Sweet and vivid plum, black cherry, and currant aromas, strongly backed with wood spice, and notes of fine black tea. The medium-weight body has a cutting, fresh acidity, and sensations of cracked pits, and a hint of black rubber. Mixed berry aromas pop into the nasal cavity upon swallowing. Cherry cola syrup echoes on the finish. Perhaps a tad simple overall (young vines?), but shows varietal typicity in spades. 

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